Friday, May 31, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (89)

(a novel continued)

Mary seemed to relax once they bit into their burgers. “I don’t remember A and W food being this good,” she said.
Her parents, however, weren't thinking small talk. They had endless questions floating through their brains. ‘Lord show me what to say,’ prayed Minnie. ‘Lord give me wisdom,’ prayed John.
They both waited as they chewed on their papa and mama burgers which didn’t taste as good as they remembered.
“So, what is it you want to know?” Mary said.
“Everything,” Minnie said.
“Whatever you want to tell us,” John said.
Minnie looked at John. He seemed so wise.
Mary also looked at her father. “I want to tell you everything, yet I don’t want to tell you anything. Basically, I want to forget the whole thing, as if it never happened.”
“Maybe some counselling?” John said.
“With who?” Minnie said.
“I don’t know if I could handle that.” Mary’s lip quivered.
“Well, just rest for a few days. Things won’t seem so overwhelming once you get some rest.” John said.
Mary did look worn out—more worn out than she appeared at Christmas.
“Were you...did you get punished for what we did at Christmas?” John asked.
Mary nodded. “I don’t want to talk about it.” Her lip quivered again.
“Okay,” John said.
“How about, we go away for a few days—a road trip or something? The snow is mostly melted already. Or we could go to a resort somewhere. Eat and sleep and sit by the pool.” Minnie said.
“You two could go,” John said. “I'm just too busy with the greenhouses right now.”

That’s how Minnie and Mary ended up slathered in sunscreen in lounge chairs beside a pool in Mexico. On about day three of the seven-day vacation, Mary opened up.  “You might not believe this Mom, but it wasn’t all bad there. We had some really fun times, especially at the beginning. Those kids I was taking care of were so cute. They were adorable. I loved it first anyway.” Mary got quiet.
Minnie heard, ‘wait.’ She looked at her daughter—her daughter with the pensive, ‘if only’ expression. Minnie waited. She actually pushed her teeth down on her tongue so that the thousand questions in her heart wouldn’t pop out. She closed her eyes.
“Mom, are you sleeping?”
“No, honey, I’m not.”

“Don’t you want to hear what I have to say?”

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (88)

(a novel continued)

“Listen, how about I take my girls out to the A and W for burgers tonight?” John said.
Mary nodded and Minnie entirely approved. She liked cooking, but sometimes she liked not cooking even better.
Mary spent the rest of the afternoon in her room.
“I think this time she's out for good,” Minnie said. She told John about the wrong number which wasn’t really a wrong number. “Should we even try to get her stuff?” 
“We’ll have to deal with that when Mary wants to deal with it.” John said.
When it was time to go for supper and John was already out in the car waiting for his girls, Minnie took one look at Mary and realized she was dreading something. “Don't you want to go? We can order in, or Dad can just pick up some chicken.”
“It’s okay,” Mary said, “I might as well get this over with.”
“You mean facing people?”
“Yeah, that. You have no idea Mom.”
Minnie put her arm around Mary. “We’re here for you.”
In the orange and brown padded booth at the restaurant they each ordered root beer, and a combination of papa, mama or cheeseburger with fries. “I haven’t been in here for absolute ages,” Mary said. It hasn't changed a bit. She was sitting on the inside of the booth beside Minnie, across from John. A middle-aged couple stopped at the table. “Great talk you gave Minnie. Wow, what an experience. You certainly have me looking into the scripture to see what it says about heaven,” the woman said. 
Minnie knew this woman from church, but couldn’t come up with her name.
“So, do you think there is a possibility that you just have one very active imagination?” the man said.
John laughed. “That she does, Paul, but I’ve noticed big changes in her since the experience. For one thing she doesn’t worry anymore. That itself is a miracle.”
The couple looked past Minnie over to Mary. They stared. 
Minnie felt she had to say something, “Sorry, we should do some introductions here. This is our daughter Mary.” She stopped. What else could she say?  This is Paul and his wife? These are people from church? She decided to give John’s foot a kick under the table so he could pick up where she had left off. Obviously he knew this couple better than she did. He knew a good many people better than she did as he met many of them at the nursery when they bought mostly flowers in the spring and trees in the fall and odds and sods between. He had also been an elder in the church for a number of terms which gave him the opportunity to meet people in their homes on a regular basis as part of the church’s imitative to stay connected.
John looked at Minnie in puzzlement. She frowned and moved her eyes from Mary to the couple.
“Oh....Mary this is Mr. and Mrs. VanderPol from church. They moved here from Sarnia a few years back,” John said.
Minnie blushed.
“Pleased to meet you.” Mary nodded at the couple.
They nodded back and moved on.
“Sorry," Minnie confessed, "I could not remember that woman’s name. Edith? Etna? Ellie?”

“Not even close.” John said. “It’s Maria, but she does have a sister Edith who kind of looks like her.”

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (87)

(a novel continued)

That weekend Mary called. 
John happened to be the one to answer the phone.
“What is it?” Minnie asked as soon as he hung up.
“Mary wants me to pick her up at the compound at two. She said she couldn’t talk. That I had to be there at exactly two.”
“I wonder what this means,” Minnie said.
“I know one thing: if she is leaving there I’m not taking her back for anything.”
“Should I come with you?”
“Maybe you should. Two heads is better than one.”
“Speaking of heads...we should pray.” 
At one thirty Minnie and John left for the compound in the nursery truck. “We'll take her stuff with us right away,” John said.
Mary met them on the lane about 100 metres outside the compound gates. She was carrying her purse, nothing else. She hopped in when Minnie opened the passenger door. “Quick let’s go. I think they suspect something,” she said.
It had been on the tip of John’s tongue to ask about taking along her stuff, but he realized that wasn’t going to happen.He was just happy to have his Mary. He three pointed turned and they were away. Mary didn’t say much on the ride home. Minnie simply held her hand.
At the house, the phone was ringing. Minnie answered.
“Is Mary there?” the voice wanted to know.
“Who’s this?” 
“Just tell her she’s closed a door,” said the voice. “She’ll know.”
“Who was it?” John asked.

“A wrong number,” Minnie said.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (86)

(a novel continued)

“Keep It Simple, Stupid,” Pastor Peters said.
“Always open with prayer. Ask questions. Listen to the answers. Let them ask questions. You can’t teach them anything if you don’t know what they already know. And remember the church is behind you. We’ll pray for you and be here to support you if you need any help.”
Minnie thanked her pastor. She didn’t tell him she had resisted coming to him in the first place. He didn’t have to know.
The next meeting at Nan’s went much better.
“What no school books?” Nan said.
“I returned them,” Minnie said.
Minnie opened the time together with prayer. She asked the Lord to lead and guide the discussion. The women truly wanted a deep relationship with Jesus. They talked about their lives and what they wanted to change. When Minnie asked them to pray out one-sentence prayers, they sincerely asked Jesus to help them be more like Him. Amy wanted to improve her marriage relationship. Sue wanted to be a better parent. Brenda wanted to be less selfish. Hannah didn’t want to worry so much. 
Minnie encouraged each woman to have a private time with the Lord. Spend time reading the Bible. And spend time praying. They wanted to know how to pray. 
“Think about prayer as if you are talking to a friend,” Minnie said. She also showed them the passage where the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. They rest of the Tuesday evening together they spend studying The Lord’s Prayer.
When Minnie kissed John good-night later that evening she admitted, “I should have listened to you in the first place.”
“I know,” he said.
“You don’t have to be quite so smug about it.”
“Not often I get an apology from you.” 
“I may be doing more apologizing,” Minnie said.
“Why do you say that?”
“I asked Jesus to purify me. I think He took me seriously.” 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (85)

(a novel continued)

At the end of the evening they voted by a show of hands to try again the following week.
Minnie went home feeling the failure. “They didn’t like the books,” she told John.
“Did you pray about using those books?” John asked.
“Well, not in so many words. I figured because the store had exactly the number I needed, God must have prepared them to be there.”
“I still think you should talk to Pastor Peters,” John said. “He has some experience with these kind of things.”
“I really don’t think I need to,” Minnie said, somewhat stubbornly. 
“At least talk to God about that,” John said as he walked out of the room.
“Okay, I will.”
‘God,’ she said, ‘I need help.’
‘You certainly do.’
Minnie was somewhat shocked at the abruptness of that statement. ‘God, help me.’
‘I will do more than help you. I will lead you, if you let me.’
‘I’m letting you.’
‘Are you?’
‘Aren’t I?’
‘Did you ask me about Pastor Peters?’
‘No, that was John’s idea, not yours.’
‘How do you know it wasn’t mine?’
‘Was it?’
Suddenly, Minnie realized her mistake. ‘I’m so sorry Lord. Forgive me.’
‘Welcome to the process. You asked me to purify you.’
Minnie asked John to forgive her as well. She would also have to ask the women at the group to forgive her for getting them off to such a shaky start. She prayed that God would graciously bring them all back the next Tuesday. Minnie phoned Pastor Peters at the first possible opportunity. He invited her to come to his office. He was pleased with the initiative and gave her some very straightforward advise about format and material.
“With new believers I use the ‘KISS’ method,” he said.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (84)

(a novel continued)

When Minnie told John about what she would be doing for the upcoming Tuesday evenings, he suggested she talk to Pastor Peters about materials. “He knows about these things. Besides you need a solid backup, a church that’s got some responsibility over you when you do something like this.”
“I don’t think Pastor Peters would be much help, John. He really doesn’t relate to women all that well. It would be a waste of his time to have him involved.”
“Suit yourself.”
“Look, I’ve been to heaven. God is obviously behind this thing. That’s all the back-up anyone needs,” Minnie said.
The next day she found some basic study material at the bookstore. They just happened to have a dozen copies of a 7-step discipleship program in the store. Minnie bought the books. The first step was to become accountable, become part of a group that holds you to your commitment and keeps you on track. That is what the group at Nan’s house would do. They would hold each other accountable.
When Tuesday night came and Minnie tried to teach this concept, nobody seemed to get what she was talking about or why she was talking about it. They looked at her with question marks and boredom in their eyes. “Are you sure we need these books?” Nan asked.
“We just want you to teach us about Jesus—having a relationship with Him. Like how do you hear Him talking to you?” Amy said.
“Should I take the books back then?” Minnie asked.
“Works for me,” Nan offered.
Minnie collected the books. “I really don’t have anything else prepared,” Minnie said.
“Coffee anyone?” Nan asked.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (83)

(a novel continued)

They decided to meet for coffee at Nan’s the next day. “You can help eat my three dozen leftover Christmas cookies,” Nan said.
When Minnie drove up to Nan’s, she had to park on the street because there were a row of cars in the lane way, and she was greeted by a dozen women sitting in the living room. 
“Surprise,” Nan said, “We were all at your talk on Sunday night and we all put a hand up. The thing is most of us don’t know much about church, so we got talking and we want you to teach us more about this stuff. At least then we won’t feel like a bunch of church dummies.
‘Lord what do I say?’ Minnie prayed.
‘Say yes. I will lead you through.’
“Okay,” said Minnie to the roomful of women. “Have you figured out when you want to meet?”
“We thought Tuesday evenings right here would be good,” Nan said.
“Works for me,” Minnie said.
“We figured you can decide what we should learn,” Nan said. The others nodded.
They spent the rest of the evening getting to know each other, drinking coffee and finishing up Nan’s freezer stash of Christmas goodies. 
Minnie decided she would go to the Christian Bookstore in town to see what kind of material they had for a discipleship class. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (82)

(a novel continued)

“I guess we’ll wait and see,” John said as he shoved back his chair. “I’m off to the nursery. We’re starting some more plants today.”
Minnie felt somewhat lost for something to do. She decided to give her house a thorough cleaning, but first she would spend some quality time with the Lord. She took her new Amplified Bible to the Living Room. John had surprised her with this extra gift at Christmas. She began to read where the Bible fell open at Judges 16. The story was about Samson who God used despite his sinful life. Minnie prayed, “Lord use me, but show me my sin. Make me whiter than snow. I want to be pure before you.”
If she had known the pain that prayer could bring to her, she may not have prayed it quite so glibly.
As Minnie went about her house straightening and cleaning, she thought about her friend Nan. Nan had been at the meeting last night. She wondered if Nan had been one of those who raised her hand to receive Jesus as her personal Saviour. She decided to phone her.
Nan wasn’t home so she left a message on the answering machine, “Call me when you have a minute.”
Two minutes later the phone rang. It was Nan. “You called?” Minnie thought she might as well be up front—they had that kind of friendship.
“Just wondering what you thought of the meeting? I didn’t get a chance to talk to you. I did see you sitting way at the back.”
“Well, Minnie I didn’t think you were a public speaker...but you made a pretty convincing appeal. And, if you want to know I did put my hand up. That’s why you called isn’t it?”
“Oh Nan, I am so happy for you. Do want to get together? Will you be coming to church?”
“Hold it not so fast? I’m convinced I need a Saviour, but I am not at all convinced that I need a church.”
“I guess we should talk,” Minnie said. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (81)

(a novel continued)

Before Minnie had time to wonder what to say, Pastor Peters called on her to share her story. She went to the microphone and hung onto the sides of the large wooden pulpit to steady her trembling legs.
She looked across the audience. That is what they were, an audience. She recognized that they hadn't come to worship.
She started, “I am not here not to entertain you. If you came here to be entertained, you may be quite disappointed. I came here tonight because I am entirely grateful to the Lord. And my gratitude is not for what you might think. Yes, the Lord spared my life. My husband and children and some of you who know me thought I would probably die. To be truthful I think I did. Death is a wonderful thing.”
She went on for the next twenty minutes about the beauties of heaven and touched on the promise of a new heaven and a new earth after this heaven and this earth pass away. 
Then she did something that very rarely, if ever, happened in that church. She did an altar call. “The only way to receive this eternal life and avoid eternal death is to give your life to Jesus Christ. He is the only Way. If you want to make him the Lord of your life, put up your hand.” Hands all over the church shot up.
 At that point Minnie let Pastor Peter take over. He told the people to confess their sins, and to receive Jesus as their Savior. Then he led them in a prayer of confession and invited them to join a church.
When Minnie sat down, John put his arm around her. “You did good,” he said.
Minnie felt entirely drained. “I’m going to sleep well tonight,” she proclaimed. Contrary to what she thought, that night she took a very long time to fall asleep. She kept going over what God had given her to say and thanked him from the bottom of her heart for the ability to say it.
In the morning, just before she awoke, she dreamed she was back in heaven. She was partying with the people and angels in heaven in the meadow by her cottage. Everyone sang and danced and worshiped the King of Kings. 

“Lord, what now?” John prayed after Minnie shared her dream as they sat together at the breakfast table. They waited. They each heard a similar message. John heard, ‘wait.’ Minnie heard, ‘you’ll see.’

Monday, May 20, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (80)

(a novel continued)

When John and Minnie drove to the church that evening, they found the parking lot plugged and  the adjacent streets lined with cars. “I’ll let you off here,” John said as he pulled up to the church.  Save me a spot. I’ll look for you near the front.”
Minnie went to the back entrance of the church—that way she could go up the back stairs and end up at the front of the sanctuary. When she peeked in she was more than surprised. The pews were filled, the balcony had been pressed into service, there were chairs in the aisles, and people standing at the back. And, the service wasn’t supposed to start for another ten minutes.
Pastor Peters saw her at the door. “Quite something, eh? I guess you have your testimonial all prepared?”
He said it like a question, but fortunately he wasn’t requiring an answer, or at least he didn’t wait for one.
The pastor pointed to a few seats in the front row with reserved signs on them, “For you and your husband.” He patted her shoulder and left her standing there.
‘I’m right here.’
Just then, John came up. She pointed to their seats. They went in and sat down.
The worship team seemed energized by the crowd. They  led the congregation through, My Redeemer Lives, Amazing Grace, and Rock of Ages. It was a good thing the worship team was in top form, Minnie thought, as even she could hear that a good portion of the congregation was not familiar with the songs. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (79)

(a novel continued)

The week before the service the secretary from the church phoned to say they were putting up a few posters around town to advertise the service. Did she have a title for her testimonial? Minnie was about to say she would have to  think about that and how soon did they have to know, when she heard, ‘Heaven is a Beautiful Place.’ 
“Heaven is a beautiful place,” she said.
“That’s the last detail,” the secretary said. We’ll get those printed this afternoon and have them ready for the youth group to put up around town this evening.”
Minnie wondered what Pastor Peters would think? She was pretty sure he believed she hadn’t been anywhere near heaven, or hell. She had simply been in a coma.

As the day approached Minnie mulled over different openings for her testimonial. She couldn’t settle on anything, but in her spirit she kept hearing, ‘follow my direction.’ When the day finally came, she didn’t have even an opening line. ‘Lord, the service is this evening and I don’t know what I am saying.’
‘But, I do.’ That would have to be enough for Minnie.
Her friend Nan called. “Hey you, I saw the posters, I’m coming to the service tonight and most of the ladies from the cookie exchange are too. On Saturday, several had heard Alvin, the local radio host, carry on about the event. Alvin saw the posters and actually said on the radio he would be going to hear you,” Nan said.
Now Minnie had something to worry about. But she didn’t. ‘Lord, you better speak clearly tonight.’
She saw the Lord smiling at her. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (78)

(a novel continued)

For Minnie’s birthday toward the end of January, John and Minnie enjoyed a candlelight dinner at the Old Mill and watched Fiddler on the Roof at the local theater. When they got home there were phone messages from both the boys wishing her a happy birthday and one from Pastor Peters asking her to call him back. Nothing from Mary.

The next day when Minnie phoned Pastor Peters he was all business. He didn't mention her birthday. “I was thinking we could hold our praise service on the Sunday evening before Valentines’ Day,” he said. “Would you be able to give a testimony? Keep it light. Sing some praise songs. The worship team will come up with some appropriate hymns and I will close things off. We’ll keep it short, maybe an hour at the most.”
‘Lord, this better be your plan or I'm in big trouble,’ Minnie prayed in her spirit. 
“Do you want to see my testimony, before I give it?” she asked Pastor Peters. She knew he wouldn't want  to leave things to chance, but he surprised her, “I’ll trust you to keep your talk under twenty minutes.”
Since Minnie had zero experience with public speaking (a fact she didn't share with Pastor Peters), she was glad he didn't expect more than that. 

‘Lord, what do I say?’ she prayed.
‘Speak from your heart. I will direct you.’
‘Thanks for that.’ It struck Minnie once again that her way of life had changed dramatically since her accident. Worry had disappeared and prayer had taken over. Now she found her connection with the Lord completely essential. And, she was looking forward to giving a twenty minute testimonial. If she had been asked to do something like this a year ago, she would have found forty reasons to be somewhere else. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (77)

(a novel continued)

 John and Minnie went to bed well before midnight on New Year’s Eve. “The old year doesn’t need us to help it leave,” John said. 
On New Year’s Day, the kids phoned to say “Happy New Year”—two of the kids phoned. Minnie and John hadn’t heard a word from Mary since Christmas.
Minnie resisted the temptation to worry. She prayed instead. In her spirit she heard the familiar, ‘Wait.’ John heard the same thing.  
“I’m thinking she might simply be biding her time,” John said.
“You do?” 
“Brandon is big on intimidation. Mary, the real Mary, was never one to be intimidated. If she knew she was right she always stood up for herself.
I think she is beginning to recognize the lies.”
“What makes you so?”
“Just something she said in the truck on the way to the compound.”
“You didn’t mention this.”
“Well, it wasn’t anything big, but the Lord keeps bringing it back to me. When He does, it gives me hope.”
In the truck, just before we got there, she said she hoped Brandon wasn’t around. Bill asked her why and she said, 'He’s moody.' As soon as she said it she clammed up. It was like she surprised herself with the criticism. We’ve never, ever heard even a hint from her that anyone in that place wasn't perfect.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (76)

(a novel continued)

About an hour later the truck pulled back into the driveway, without Mary’s furniture and without Mary. Minnie’s heart fell. She greeted her dejected husband at the door. “I’m sorry,” John said.
“That place gives me the creeps,” Bill said. “They run it tighter than the armed forces.” 
The four of them sat around the dining room table. Minnie poured coffee and put out a plate of her diminishing stash of cookies and squares.
“What made her go back?” Minnie asked.
“What made her think she wanted to leave?” John said.
“I feel like hanging that guy up by his ears.” Bill said.
“Which guy?” Minnie said.
“We drove up to the gate,” John said. “The main leader, Brandon, came out to see us. You could tell they were on the look-out for us....a bunch of people milling around inside the gate. Brandon thanked us for bringing Mary back. We said we were there to pick up her stuff. Brandon looked at Mary and asked her if that was true. She said No. Imagine that, she said NO.”
“If I were driving I would have backed up the truck and left before Mary had a chance to get out. Forget about the stuff.” Bill said.
“A lot of good that would do,” John said. “She has to leave of her own freewill. Otherwise she’ll just go back anyway.”
“We have to trust God,” Minnie said. “He’s got this.”
Treasa stared at Minnie. Treasa didn’t say anything but Minnie could see the questions. 
‘Wait’ Minnie heard in her spirit.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (75)

(a novel continued)

Minnie put on some Christmas music as she puttered and prayed in the kitchen. ‘Lord, I pray you will give us wisdom and please help me not to say anything I shouldn’t say.’ She so wanted to talk to Mary about her decision. Something must have happened. Had Mary possibly been ordered to leave her church? 

Mary had moved onto the compound when she was eighteen. She had attended church there several times at the invitation of a friend. When she finished high school she told her parents that she had been offered a job as a nanny. Suddenly she was away all week every week and never came home. When they tried to visit her they were stopped at the gate and refused entrance. Once Mary came out to the gate to say she wasn’t allowed visitors and couldn’t get time off. That was five years ago. 
In the intervening years the Beekys and several other families who had been alienated from their children and a few others who had recently left the cult—might as well call it what it was—formed an alliance of sorts.
They had tried everything within their power to get their children back. Sometimes they even prayed. Politicians, Canada Revenue, the media and even a deprogrammer were called into the fray with varying degrees of success. Several parents had abducted their own teenagers only to have them turn around and go back to the compound at the first possible opportunity. The government took away the church’s charitable status. The compound group stood up to the persecution. They even agreed to go on a radio show to defend their way of life. Alvin, a local radio host moderated as parents met with leaders of the compound church.
The parents came armed with a list of concerns. They accused the compound of adhering to the tenets of a cult. Shunning: “We never see our kids.”  Isolation: “They contribute nothing to the larger community.” A law unto yourselves: “You don’t obey any of the tax laws.”
The compound leaders presented themselves as a loving, caring body of believers under persecution. They probably recruited a few new followers during the airing of the show.
In the months following subtle changes began to take place. The compound leaders adopted a new theme. They directed their followers to perform deliberate acts of non-cultish behaviour. The parents saw this as manipulation headed in the right direction. They pulled back the reins of persecution.

Now Minnie prayed, ‘Lord, please don’t let Mary change her mind and go back there to stay.’
 ‘Trust me.’
‘I trust you, Lord, no matter what.’

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (74)

(a novel continued)

Twenty minutes later they were sipping coffee by the gently flaming fireplace.
“What makes you want to leave your church?” John asked.
“I really don’t want to talk about it,” Mary said.
“That’s okay,” Minnie said, “You can stay here as long as you need to, can’t she John?”
John nodded.
“Thank you, Mom and Dad. I appreciate that. And...I kind of need help getting my stuff.”
“That should be no problem,” John said.
“Or, they'll probably just throw it out,” Mary said.
“We can do it tomorrow.” 

Mary didn’t do or say much the rest of the day. She went for a walk, and mostly stayed in her room, but she did come out to inspect the ring when Bill and Treasa dropped by. 
Treasa held up her hand so everyone could see the exquisite little ring. “Bill wanted to buy me a ridiculously big one, but I wouldn’t let him.” 

“When are you heading out, Mary?” Bill asked.
“I’m not.”
“We could get your stuff right, now,” Bill said to Mary when he heard about the planned move. 
Mary nodded consent and John went to the nursery to get a truck. 
Minnie stayed home to prepare supper while the others squeezed into the cab of the pick-up and headed toward the compound just outside town. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (73)

(a novel continued)
Treasa looked at Bill with big startled eyes,  “Is there something I don’t know?”
 “We want to get married.”
A collective sigh of relief went up from the room.
“Always the joker,” Mary said.
Bill laughed.
“Congratulations.” Minnie said. 
“Yes, congratulations,” the others echoed.
“Where’s the ring?” George asked.
“He just asked me at the hotel last night. We plan to look for a ring tomorrow. There should be some good boxing day sales.”
“Welcome to our family.” John shook Treasa’s hand. “I don’t know you very well, but it looks to me like Bill has chosen well.”
“This calls for refreshments,” Mary headed to the kitchen. 
There's eggnog and strawberry-rhubarb juice, Minnie called after her. 
They talked and laughed the evening away. Bill and Treasa promised to return the following afternoon to show off the ring. 

Mary was the only one to stay the night. 
I’m leaving my church, she said the next morning as she stared into her oatmeal.
Leaving your church?” Minnie wasn't sure she had heard right.
“When did you decide this?” John asked.
I know you think it’s a cult so this probably makes you happy.”
“So....what made you decide?” Minnie asked.
“I've been thinking about it for a while.”
 And now?.... John let the question dangle.
“I’d like to stay here for a few days while I decide.”
“That’s fine with us,” Minnie said. She tried to subdue the absolute joy she felt. “How about some coffee?” Minnie was off to the kitchen to prepare the coffee before either John or Mary could answer.
“I guess, we’re having coffee,” said John.
‘Thank you Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you,’ Minnie said as she danced around the kitchen trying to remember what she was doing. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (72)

(a novel continued)

When all the presents had been opened, John picked up the Bible George had left laying on the mantle. “We haven’t read the Christmas story yet.” He turned to Luke 2. He read:
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
When John thumped the Bible onto the coffee table, Minnie came back from heavenly places. “That’s Christmas,” she said. “I am so glad we could all be here.” She looked at everyone in the room and smiled. 
The younger generation smiled back and politely nodded. George and Mary began picking up the wrapping paper and stuffing it into the big box Minnie had used for George's note.
“Speaking about babies, Treasa and I have something to tell you,” Bill said. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (71)

(a novel continued)
George untied the white ribbon and tore back the shiny red paper. Inside he found a large white cardboard box with a green lid. Inside that he found crumpled newspaper. George rolled his eyes again as he tossed out the paper. “Are you sure you put something in here?”
At the bottom of the box he found an envelope, marked with a smiley face. George looked at his mother, “You didn’t?”
“Sorry, couldn’t resist.” 
George opened the envelope. Just as he suspected there was a note inside. The note said, ‘Look under your bed upstairs, at the spot you used to say your prayers.’
“See you guys later,” George said as he headed up the stairs.
“We’re coming with you,” Mary said.
Bill winked at Henry, “You don’t want to miss this part either.”
“I could use the exercise,” John said.
“Come too,” Minnie said to Treasa.
Everyone followed George up to his designated bedroom.
George knelt by his bed and looked under, “There is nothing here.” 
“That’s because you are not following the directions,” Minnie said.
He looked at the note in his hand. Then he went to the foot of his bed. “I used to say my prayers, here, right here,” he mumbled. He looked down. There on the floor lay the note. ‘Shine your shoes, brush your teeth, comb your hair, have some breakfast, say a prayer, make a lunch, that is where, the next note is. Figure it are a whiz.’
George hadn’t rolled his eyes this much in years. “My the kitchen, by the sink, as I recall.” 
They all followed George down to the kitchen.
“Are we having fun yet?” he asked.
“I am,” Henry said.
In the kitchen Minnie’s to-do list was the only note George could find.
“Turn it over,” Minnie advised.
'You are here, you want to know, how many more notes there are to go, before you can sit down, and stop being the clown. Good news...the last note is the last note in the book of good news.'
“The book of good news? The book of good news....” George’s face lit up. “The Bible.”
He went to the dining room and picked up the family Bible. He carried it to the front room where everyone resumed their places. He opened up the Bible and ruffled the pages from back to front with his thumb. Then he held the book upside down and shook it. A ribbon bookmark fell out. “Nothing here.” 
“Read the directions again,” Minnie said.
‘...the last note is the last note in the book of good news.’ George turned to the back of the Bible. “‘The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.’ That doesn’t help me.”
“Actually it’s written on the back flap,” said Minnie.
“Don’t you know you are not supposed to add anything to the Bible,” said Mary. “It says that right in the last chapter, somewhere.”
“Verse 18,” Henry said.
Everyone, except George, looked at Henry with surprise.
“My church did a lot of Bible drills when we were young.” 
George turned to the back flap of the Bible. The note said, ‘Look behind the picture of Grandpa on the mantle.’ George went over to the fireplace and picked up the black and white picture of his grandfather Beeky. There he found a small white velvety box.. He flipped open the box. Inside sat a man’s ring with an Emerald stone.
“Whoa, I think you went a little over budget here,” George said. “Thank you!”

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (70)

(a novel continued)

 It’s heavy, Treasa warned as she handed Minnie and John's gift to Mary. 
Inside she found an oval-shaped piece of plywood bordered with thick black leather. Okay, what am I looking at here?” Mary said.
“It’s upside down,” John said.
Mary turned the gift over. I love it. Did you make this Dad?”
She ran over and hugged her father. John beamed as he remembered the hours he'd spent setting the mirror inside that old horse collar.
“Took me awhile to restore the collar.”
“I love it. Absolutely love it.”
“You said that already,” Bill said.

Treasa picked up the next gift which happened to be for Bill from his parents.
Although the large package was light, Treasa pretended to be carrying something even heavier than Mary's gift.  “Gotcha,” she said when the gift almost bounced out of Bill's hands.
Inside the outer wrapping Bill found another layer of wrapping paper. Inside that paper he found a l layer of wallpaper, and then a layer of newspaper. Eighteen layers of paper later he had a small black velvet box. “Finally,” he said pretending to be completely exhausted. 
He opened the box to discover a stream-lined watch with every kind of capability. It was a compass and a stop watch, a calendar and an alarm system. “Wow, thanks guys,” he said to his parents. “Where did you find this? I've been looking for one of these.”
Treasa handed the next gift to George. This was an equally large package, almost as light as Bill’s. George rolled his eyes. “Don’t tell me I have to unwrap 2000 layers of paper as well? He looked at Henry. “You might as well go out and have a smoke—this could take a few minutes.”
“And, I wouldn't want to miss it.” Henry said.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (69)

(a novel continued)
Bill waved the Santa hat, “So, who is Santa Claus this year?”
‘Volunteer Henry’ John heard in his heart. 
“Henry you do it,” John said.
Henry blushed and let Bill put the hat on his head. 
“Don’t worry, we’ll all take a turn,” George said.
The first gift went to Minnie. It was from George and Henry. It was an expensive deep blue shawl made of a very delicate fabric and with a golden thread woven throughout. “Beautiful, almost heavenly,” Minnie proclaimed.
“Thank you so much boys.” She wrapped the shawl around her shoulders and wasn’t seen without it the rest of the evening.
There were golf clubs for John and Minnie from all the kids. The clubs came with lessons. “We thought you should take up a sport,” George said. 
“You are spoiling us,” Minnie said. “How did you know we talked about taking up golf?”
“You’ll have to buy your own golf bags,” Bill said. “We had to stop somewhere.”
“I can probably pick some up at garage sale in the spring,” Minnie said. I’ve seen them at garage sales.
John looked very pleased. “The lessons are a very good idea,” he said.
The children had bought each other gag gifts. Mary received a snowman that sang Frosty the Snowman from Bill. “Maybe it can teach you how to sing,” he said.
George gave Bill a small metal detailed Ferrari that was really a pencil sharpener. “You always wanted a sports car.” 
Mary gave f her brothers each a box of popsicle sticks. “To make things.” 
O...Kay, Bill said.
“Wait for the rest of the gift.” 
“This must be it,” Henry said as he reached for two gifts wrapped with the same bright red paper. George and Bill opened the gifts simultaneously. 
They each pulled out a plastic popsicle makers. “Remember all those fancy popsicles we used to make?”
“Like the one with the worm in it that we were waiting for Mary to eat, and Mom got instead,” Bill said.
“You didn’t?” Treasa looked at Bill I don't think I know you.
“We didn’t figure Mom would want a popsicle,” Bill winked at her.
“It’s time for someone else to be Santa,” George said. He grabbed the hat from Henry’s head and handed it to Treasa.
She adjusted it on her head, “How does it look? I think I need a mirror.”
“It looks fine, honey.” Bill said.
‘Tell her she looks beautiful’ Minnie heard in her spirit. “You look absolutely stunning, with or without the hat,” Minnie said.
Bill beamed.